How did the United States become so divided?
2021 is behind us. It has been another year of conflict. Another year of anger. Another year of division. A year of the vaccinated against the unvaccinated, of the masked against the unmasked, of us against them. A time of racists calling everyone racists, men calling themselves women and basically everyone accusing everyone of being the cause of everything that afflicts us.
How did we get here? How did the United States become so divided?
Some argue that everything is political and that if we simply put aside our partisan differences all would be well, but such thinking is pious at best and naive in the extreme.
The problem is not that progressives disagree with conservatives, republicans with democrats, or independents with libertarians. No, political differences are not the cause of the disease. In fact, debating dissenting opinions is not at all the problem. As an educator, I have always believed that the compromise of a good argument is actually healthy.
The disease that plagues our culture is not disagreement, but rather the fact that we have completely abandoned all objective standards in deciding how to arbitrate our differences. The problem is not that we disagree, but rather that our nation no longer has any rational or peaceful means of deciding who is right and who is wrong. The problem is, we have let go of the truth.
In 1992, Rodney King brought our nation to reason for a brief moment when he uttered the now famous words: “Can’t we all get along?” For over 200 years, the answer was yes! Of course, we have had our struggles. And many were not negligible. But, for two centuries, we have debated, argued, protested and even fought our battles with obvious truths as the standard of cohesion. From generation to generation we have resolved to find a way to “get along”, and the way we did it was to trust the truth as a judge and to believe it, and it alone, would free us.
The Declaration of Independence tells us that such a truth is conferred on us by our creator and that it is not invented by the crowd. The truth is not the construction of a king, nor the product of public consensus. The truth is revealed from above, not made up from within. As St. Paul urges: “It is written in every human heart.
Since the founding of America, the inalienable rights that form the building blocks of our society have found their source in the revealed truth of God, not in government. The rejection of this fact – of this truth – goes hand in hand with the consequent loss of cultural unity and cohesion in our country. We dare not forget that John Adams once warned: “Our Constitution is made for one moral and religious people and is totally inadequate for the government of any other.
In other words, to live together in peace, Adams (along with all those who fought for us and gave us the freedoms we now enjoy) believed that we needed to have a bonding glue that comes from somewhere other than ourselves, of something bigger, better and wiser than you or me.
To pretend otherwise is sheer arrogance; chronological snobbery, to be more precise. It is like claiming that all reality can be explained from the test piece of ourselves. It is a credo of mere mortals who think they know more than the giants who came before them. A religion that cries out, “We are what we expected and we are the change we seek. A priesthood that believes its incantations can stem the ocean tide, calm the nation’s storms, and control the global climate. A Holy See that pompously claims to redefine biology and ignore genetics. This cult can cure illnesses with cloth masks and replace science with scientism. It is a faith that kneels in Dr Anthony Fauci as his pontiff with a “vaccine” as his Eucharist. It is a religion of pride and lies in opposition to one that humbly bows down to what is true.
This is the worldview that many Americans now share, and because of it, the sad answer to King’s question is, no, it seems we can’t all “get along.” Our new national religion is that of feelings about facts. It is a church of the created over the creator, of the self over the Savior, and of our power over the enduring principles of God.
History teaches us that the blood of liberty runs in the streets when the truth is beheaded on the guillotine of Jacobin arrogance. No culture has ever survived Robespierre’s elevation on the Apocalypse, of lying about what is real, just and true.
A return to true religion – a return to the truth – is the only thing that will save our nation and heal our land. We cannot all “get along” unless there is some standard other than ourselves that tells us how to do it.
• Washington Times columnist Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper) is a former college president and radio host. He is the author of “Not a Daycare: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery) and, more recently, of “Grow Up: Life Isn Safe, But It’s Good”.